Istanbul: Michelin race report

Pescarolo-Michelin gets 2006 off to a flying start! Pescarolo-Michelin's Manu Collard and Jean-Christophe Bouillon kicked off their 2006 Le Mans Series campaign just as they had concluded last year's championship, with a win in Istanbul....

Pescarolo-Michelin gets 2006 off to a flying start!

Pescarolo-Michelin's Manu Collard and Jean-Christophe Bouillon kicked off their 2006 Le Mans Series campaign just as they had concluded last year's championship, with a win in Istanbul. Michelin tyres also collected a one-two finish in the LMP2 category (Courage C65, Pilbeam- Judd) in Turkey, while there was an all-Michelin LMGT1 podium (Aston Martin, Ferrari 550, Corvette C5R). The duration of the race itself, which took place in wet, hazardous conditions, was shortened to just four hours by the organisers.

The win of the defending Le Mans Series champions by a margin of seven laps does not do justice to the ferocity of the fight which opposed the Pescarolo-Michelin and Creation-Michelin teams during the opening two hours of the race on a fast-drying track after a wet start. Dicing in these tricky conditions, the Creation made the most of its smaller tyres through the corners while the Pescarolo was faster along the straights. However, transmission problems for the Creation halfway into the race unfortunately brought a premature halt the two teams' exciting scrap.

After that, the Pescarolo-Michelin was able to go on to collect a straightforward win in the first encounter of the season when the chequered flag was shown after 134 laps. Second place overall went to the surprising Courage C65 AER-Michelin of Michael Vergers/Juan Barazi/Jean-Philippe Belloc who also claimed victory in the LMP2 category. Having started from pole, the RML-run MG Lola-Michelin was caught up in a tangle at the start, while the clearly quicker Radical SR9-Judd was sidelined by engine failure. Meanwhile, the Barazi Epsilon prototype proved both reliable and consistent, two essential ingredients for success in endurance racing. The new Pilbeam- Michelin of Rostan/Bruneau ensured a one-two finish for Michelin tyres in LMP2.

Michelin partners - representing three different makes - also monopolised the podium in the LMGT1 category which provided another extremely close fight. Running on slick tyres to begin with, the PSI Experience Corvette C6R dominated the early part of the race. Halfway into the second stint, however, the Aston Martin of Larbre Competition (Lamy/Gardel/Vosse) took control before the Corvette ultimately retired with alternator trouble. The Ferrari 550-Michelin of Kox/Vergi/Vassiliev profited from its double-stint strategy to secure 2nd place ahead of the Alphand Aventures Corvette C5R driven of Policand/Goueslard/Beltoise.

Matthieu Bonardel, Michelin's Circuit Racing Activities Manager: "The majority of cars started the race on rain tyres, except for a handful of competitors who gambled on slicks which ended up saving them one tyre- change stop. As the race progressed, the racing line began to dry but the prototypes were frequently forced off the ideal line to overtake. Our rain tyres performed well in these conditions and kept up a good pace until the cars finally switched to slicks. We had new rain tyres here for the LMGT1s and our partner teams were fully satisfied with them, which is very encouraging for the next round which takes us to Spa. As far as our slick tyres were concerned, certain teams opted for a single-stint strategy and consequently chose a soft compound (Aston Martin), while others double stinted (Convers Menx) on a medium compound. The surface of the Istanbul circuit is pretty abrasive and particularly demanding in terms of traction but we didn't have any problems with wear."

-michelin-

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Series ELMS
Teams Larbre Competition